The Democratic Nomination: What’s Likely to Happen Next

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Democratic Party, Sanders and Clinton

We’re entering the final weeks of the primary season. Let’s review how we got to where we are now on the Democratic side, and then project from that what’s likely to happen next.

As I wrote in this post, we know that Hillary Clinton had won the “invisible primary” by about March of 2015, if not sooner. Jonathan Bernstein, writing for Bloomberg News on March 12, 2015, said,

Clinton has (apparently) won the nomination fair and square, through hard work and political talent. That is why she has earned the support of the bulk of Democratic party actors, and gained the acquiescence of other Democrats who aren’t as enthusiastic about her.

So all those perfectly viable other candidates either dropped out or never seriously considered the race. Had Clinton chosen not to run, plenty of the others would have jumped in, and the field would have been comparable to what the Republicans have put together.

If you are sputtering but that was over a year ago, well, yes. As far as the power brokers on the Democratic side were concerned, Hillary Clinton would be the nominee, and they had decided this by March 2015. This is why her only challengers were party outsiders, in one way or another. The other insiders were discouraged from even trying. See also Ezra Klein at Vox.  For more details on how she managed to win the nomination before the primaries even started, see “Hillary Clinton Is the George W. Bush of 2016” (published February 2015).

The next thing that happened was the Hillary Victory Fund.  This joint fundraising instrument essentially makes the DNC and 33 state Democratic parties extensions of the Clinton campaign, which is why such funds usually aren’t set up until the nominee is determined. It says something about the mindset of DNC insiders that it didn’t occur to them to wait.  Clinton already was the nominee, as far as they were concerned; it had been arranged that there would be no serious competition. The HVF was receiving donations by September 2015.

Note that so far the bulk of the money collected has been spent on Clinton’s campaign, and not on down-ticket candidates as promised. The latest excuse I heard is that this was the plan all along, and the money will start flowing to the states for the general elections.

IMO the significance of the HVF cannot be overstated. Alex Seitz-Wald wrote a couple of days ago,

Clinton will have extraordinary leverage to remake the party as she fits, thanks to the $46 million her joint Victory Fund has raised for the DNC and state Democratic parties.

That money, which makes up a significant portion of the DNC’s incoming cash flow each month, has helped keep the cash-strapped party solvent.

If Clinton’s campaign ends, so does the money supply. She has bought the DNC, in other words.

Seitz-Wald writes that Bernie Sanders’s refusal to withdraw from the primary competition is causing major headaches for Clinton and the DNC. The procedure is for the nominee to assume control of the DNC before the convention begins. Sanders says he will not concede before the convention, however. Seitz-Wald continues,

The delay is a nuisance for now, Democrats say. But it would be a catastrophe if they waited until after after the Democratic National Convention, which is the earliest Sanders says he’ll withdraw.

So the DNC and the Clinton campaign will have to execute the merger earlier, with one candidate still in the race and potentially over his fierce objections. But the clock is ticking on the general election, and Democrats are eyeing the day after the California primary as a likely time to end this.

Clinton is not projected to have enough pledged delegates to claim the nomination by the day after the California primary — which would be June 8 — but by then she’s almost certain to have the necessary 2,383 delegates if the superdelegates are counted also. They aren’t supposed to count until the convention, but that’s going to be declared a mere technicality. The DNC will want to make Clinton the official  nominee, somehow, on June 8. News media will go along.

What happens next? If Clinton and her powerbroker supporters are smart, they’ll offer Sanders input into the platform, a prime-time speaking slot, choice Senate committee positions, etc.  Depending on how far he trails behind Clinton at that point, I wouldn’t blame him if he took those offers. I don’t know that he would, of course.

The other possibility is that Clinton, the DNC and her powerbrokers might just steamroller Sanders and proceed to the convention as if he didn’t exist. Considering that Clinton owns the DNC you can be certain she’s going to get the nomination on the first ballot, no matter what.

I see Sanders supporters on social media who hope the convention will work in Sanders’s favor, somehow, and that Clinton delegates will see reason and switch to Sanders. Barring some really incredible event that I can’t even imagine, this is not going to happen.

During a radio interview with John Catsimatidis, Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and Democratic National Committee chairman, laid out his vision for how the convention would play out.

“I think it’s gonna be a great convention, but of course the key to it is the Sanders people. Bernie’s gonna have his name placed in nomination; we’re gonna have a roll call; there’s gonna be a demonstration in support of Bernie; he’s gonna lose the roll call,” he said. “His supporters have to behave and not cause trouble. And I think they will, and I think Sen. Sanders will send them a strong message.”

At this point Sanders may not be in it to win it; he’s hanging in as long as he can to demonstrate the nomination was rigged all along. Last week he publicly complained that Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is stacking the rules committees with Clinton operatives.

Under party rules, Wasserman Schultz recommends 25 at-large appointments to the party’s executive committee for each of the three standing committees; rules, platform and credentials. Wasserman Schultz has forwarded only three of 40 names the Sanders campaign recommended for the key committees while installing Clinton loyalists in leading roles. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy was put in charge of the Platform Committee, for example, and former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts was tapped to head the Rules Committee.

Sanders called Malloy and Frank “aggressive attack surrogates” for Clinton. He doubted that either would “conduct committee proceeding in an even-handed manner” and said the appointments of the two Clinton loyalists “suggests the standing committees are being established in an overtly partisan way meant to exclude the input of the voters who have supported my candidacy.”

The truth is that the Sanders phenomenon was not something Clinton and the DNC had planned for. The primaries were supposed to be just for show; the conclusion had already been determined. Sanders literally crashed the party. And now the bouncers are about to toss him out.

And as much as everybody is going to pretend everything is fine, it’s going to get very messy.

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9 Comments

  1. c u n d gulag  •  May 8, 2016 @9:15 pm

    Oy ….

    IF ONLY VODKA COULD VOTE….

  2. Doug  •  May 8, 2016 @10:21 pm

    Before WWII the French built an invincible line of defense called the Manginot Line. Knowing what it was and where it was and how it worked, the Nazis developed strategy, equipment and tactics ( called blitzkreig).

    We can predict the nature of Clinton’s consolidation for her 2020 run with greater accuracy than the Germans did the French defense. (Germany punched through France to the coast in less than 2 months.) The point being, Germany did not try for a rematch of WWI in the 1930s – they knew the enemy and fought the new war on terms advantageous to them.

    The Democratic Party Machine is totally coopted. Now. It will only get worse after the nomination and the dark side will have complete control after inauguration. The DNC is the Manginot line. Democratic incumbents who are ‘party animals’ under the thumb of the DNC might be vulnerable in the mid-terms. Instead of fighting the republicans, have the Bernie people, or whatever you want to call progressives of the loyal opposition, concentrate on establishing a foothold in the US House and let the democratic party machine worry about the GOP.

    The idea would be to get a bunch more of ‘our’ people in the House in 2018 over the objection and opposition of the DNC and HRC and then put the pressure on in 2020 by making the DNC fight a two-front war. This strategy will stand in sharp contrast with ‘party progressives’ like DWS who will want us to welcome and embrace republican corporatist defectors from the GOP to build party power and crush the GOP at the expense of any real progressive policies.

    If real progressives decide to ignore the GOP and concentrate on beating the corporatists of the democratic side, then the disintegration of conservatism as it was might – I said might – usher in a new era. Victory for democrats might have long-term meaning in terms of enabling people and producing sane peaceful policies that don’t lay waste to the planet or enslave a global population to the corporate state. Wouldn’t that be fun.

    It requires an attitude adjustment – we have to ‘capture’ the democratic party FIRST – and turn our attention to conservatism (under whatever name it has assumed by then) AFTER we have a decisive majority in the democratic party and policies that match our ideals.

  3. csm  •  May 8, 2016 @11:05 pm

    “I see Sanders supporters on social media who hope the convention will work in Sanders’s favor, somehow, and that Clinton delegates will see reason and switch to Sanders. Barring some really incredible event that I can’t even imagine, this is not going to happen.”

    Something incredible, like Sanders coming up with a trillion dollars and outbidding Clinton. These superdelegates and other party insiders have been bought and paid for; the only thing that speaks to them is money, the party and what it traditionally stood for is a distant second.

  4. moonbat  •  May 9, 2016 @9:53 am

    And as much as everybody is going to pretend everything is fine, it’s going to get very messy.

    Here’s hoping Sanders and his people make a big enough mess. Totally disgusted with DWS and the corporate Dems, which is where this party has been and is going.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  May 9, 2016 @10:32 am

    After FDR, the Democratic party bathed in the “.Holy waters” of the white workig class for decades.

    And then came Nixon, with his “Silent Majority” and his “Southern Strategy,” and the Democratic party started losing their base – largly, because of bigotry.

    And then came Reagan, and the “Moral Majority,” and the Dem’s white working class base flocked to the GOP.

    As a consequence, the Dem’s wandered in the desert for over decade, until Bill Clinton saw that his party needed to raid the GOP’s traditional base, Wall Street.

    And here, now, is our remade Democratic Party:
    The Rockefeller Republicans!

    And despite that, most of us prefer these folks, to the Visigoth’s inside the gates of Congress, and the masses who support them, but can’t make it to DC, because the Visigoth party’s policies that they’ve supported for decades, have left them too broke to travel much farther than to the next gas station.

  6. LongHairedWeirdo  •  May 10, 2016 @1:58 pm

    As I’ve said, I’m more than a bit torn with this. I don’t *like* how things are – and I don’t like a powerful person like Clinton being able to rig the game to be so far in her favor that there can’t be a real nomination fight.

    But that is how things are.

    Bernie raised the point that a lot of southern states vote early, and they tend to be more conservative, and that hurt him. There may be some truth to that, but I heard it said that his African American outreach sucked – the example given was, someone was talking to a Clinton supporter, and tried “But Bernie Sanders is much stronger on welfare!” which, you know, balloon, made of lead? Yeah, it went over pretty much like that.

    And I don’t think this is anything about Bernie being poor on race – but I don’t think he realized you *can’t* be just a good man, and fighting the good fight. IIRC, he was a bit better to BLM activists than Clinton, and didn’t have a spouse scolding them, and so forth. But I’m not sure he knew he needed outreach and training from sound strategists.

    Or, maybe I’ve been snookered by someone who wanted to plant a seed against Sanders. It could be – someone put a mirror on the word “gullible” in the dictionary, because I kept looking it up to prove it hadn’t been removed!

    The fact is, he did get outvoted soundly, and by a key Democratic constituency. That does matter. Sanders has some huge caucus wins, and they do matter – they measure enthusiasm and grit, always important when running against Republicans. But they’re not exactly democratic, either.

    Anyway: he’s been outvoted, and that matters – and so do all the political and financial favors Clinton can grant. I won’t downplay that!

    But put the two together, and I won’t call gloom and doom on the Democratic establishment – not when we have to protect the nation against Trump and the Republicans!

    That’s not to say I would mind seeing some people’s political careers drawn and quartered if they don’t embrace real reform – but I want that happening after the election is sewn up.

    And it doesn’t mean I’m not angry about the injustice – how Bernie gets to draw huge crowds and gets no coverage at all, until finally, he starts pulling off the wins one might expect from someone pulling those huge crowds. He was cheated out of a fair shot at the nomination, and we were cheated out of the chance to have our voices all heard. (Hm. I will go all gloom and doom on the media, who now will find a way to say “but the Democrats have candidates just as surprising as Donald Trump…” and ignoring that the Democrats they might point to are far better informed, far more experienced, far more consistent, and far less hateful.)

  7. Swami  •  May 10, 2016 @2:56 pm

    I got the same hopes as moonbat, that Sanders people piss all over Hillary’s parade Status quo means the middle class will be losing ground at just the same pace. It’s a progressive agenda alright, but only for the wealthy. Somebody has got to put the brakes on, and Hillary doesn’t seem to see a problem..I guess at 225 thousand dollars an hour you kinda lose sight of what it’s like living from hand to mouth, or spending most of your year surviving in a financial grace period of 10 or 15 days.

  8. Doug  •  May 10, 2016 @3:07 pm

    Martin Longman wrote today, following a description of the three-legged stool of the GOP…

    “What happens when Wall Street backs a Democratic nominee, neoconservatives back a Democratic nominee, and a Democratic president locks in a Supreme Court that will be reliably pro-choice for more than a generation? Seems to me that the Republican stool is left as a pile of sawdust.”

    What ML is celebrating is the defeat of the GOP organization, achieved by having the democratic organization adopted by the Wall Street and military-industrial factions formerly loyal to the GOP. Oh, goody.

    Somehow, I had expected that unconditional victory might leave some of my progressive values intact. I am as underwhelmed as he is overwhelmed. The victory he’s ecstatic about feels like a major defeat to me.

  9. CarolB in Mpls.  •  May 17, 2016 @8:30 pm

    I don’t care how messy it gets, it is the DNC’s and Clinton’s fault. No matter how much they try to put the fracas in Nevada onto Sanders delegates, the truth is out there. They steamrollered us. The people are not going to take it. Philly is going to have to call in the National Guard and Homeland Security. If that isn’t what they want, they are certainly setting it up as though they do.

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